November 14, 2017



Diabetics are faced with a higher risk of blindness. See what you can do to protect your eye health.


According to the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes have a higher risk of blindness than those without diabetes.

“High blood sugars can make the vision go in and out as it affects the lens in the eye. Prolonged elevated blood glucose can lead to the development of cataracts, which may require surgery,” says Uyen L. Tran, M.D., division chief at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute.

“High blood sugars can also lead to diabetic retinopathy, a condition in which the small blood vessels in the back of the eye can bleed. This is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States,” Tran says.

In addition, diabetes can also increase the risk for development of glaucoma: The damaged blood vessels in the eye can grow to the front of the eye, causing bleeding and elevated eye pressure, she says.

Tran offers five tips for diabetics to maintain good eye health:

  1. Control blood sugars.
  2. Get a dilated exam once a year with an ophthalmologist.
  3. Stop smoking. If you smoke, your risk for diabetic retinopathy and other diabetes-related eye diseases increases.
  4. Maintain a healthy blood pressure level. High blood pressure can damage the tiny blood vessels on the retina.
  5. Maintain a regular exercise regimen. It will help to control your blood sugars and blood pressure, thereby supporting your eye health.

Are your eyes in need of care? The Vanderbilt Eye Institute assesses and treats a variety of conditions. Call 615-936-2020 for an appointment.